Antioxidant: a word all health enthusiasts know and want to include in their diet. So much so that a toothpaste brand is marketing its toothpaste saying it has an edge above others because it includes antioxidants. For those who are new to this here’s a little know-how on antioxidants.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced as a result of various processes that are taking place in our bodies. Free radicals damage various cells of the body and cause or worsen a number of chronic diseases, like atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis, heart diseases, stroke and diabetes. Free radicals can also lead to diminished immunity.
To neutralize free radicals, our body uses antioxidants.
Antioxidants are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, poultry and fish. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, these foods should be had either raw or lightly cooked. Never overcook them as that would lead to losses of these antioxidants.
Few Antioxidants and their sources:
- Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, muskmelon, carrots, corn, green peppers, mangoes, turnip, collard greens, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines (keenu), tomatoes, and watermelon.
- Vitamin A: liver, carrots, egg yolk, fortified milk, butter and fortified cereals.
- Lutein: spinach, kiwi, sweet corn, mango, broccoli, green beans, prunes, capsicum (orange), peas, melon, grapes, oranges, papaya, peaches, lettuce and pumpkin.
- Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, grapefruit (chakotra), oranges to name a few.
- Vitamin C: is in abundance in citrus fruit like orange, grapefruit, lemon. Apart from them foods like strawberries, kiwi, muskmelon, raw cabbage, spinach, broccoli, berries, brussels sprouts (similar to cabbage but smaller in size), cauliflower, mangoes, papaya, red, green and yellow peppers, sweet potato and tomatoes also contain decent dosage of vitamin C.
- Vitamin E: almonds, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils, nuts, broccoli, carrots, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
- Zinc: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals and dairy products
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads and other grain products
- Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas and red wine.
- Catechins: a type of flavonoid found in tea. Catechins may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Other superfoods that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, apple, berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onion, brinjal and beans.
Including lots of colourful fruits and vegetables in your meals makes sure that you include ample antioxidants in your diet. If you are unable to get enough antioxidants by eating fresh food, a multivitamin and minerals can be taken to serve the purpose; but be cautious about taking it under medical supervision only.